Most 14-year-olds are occupied playing games and going through middle school. Nobody really plans their future that far at such a young age. Most of the kids don’t like to study. Well, Santiago Gonzalez isn’t like most kids. When he was just 14, he was already in college! From 6th grade, he jumped straight to being a full-time college student! He developed many iOS apps that thousands of people use. For him, learning is something that you just do, you either die or live very miserable if you don’t learn, just like eating or breathing as he says. From a very young age, his parents could talk to him like to an adult and could explain some concepts that are advanced and too sophisticated for that age – most kids wouldn’t understand. Santiago is fluent in a few programming languages and is studying Computer Science at the Colorado School of Mines.
He said he was super happy to be in a group of people just like him, very scientifically-minded and nerdy. At the college, he really learned how computers truly work – it’s not some magic box that does tricks but a very sophisticated system with a clear set of rules to follow, and it didn’t just pop into the existence – people made it, very smart people, but still people, not gods.
Even when he was very young his parents could notice that he grew an obsession with gemology and geology. Fast forward to college, for his thesis project, he had to develop the new geophysical sensing mote (hardware) for the SmartGeo research group that works in the fields of geology.
For a different class, Distributed Computing Systems, his partner and him built a simulator to validate different computer systems in high radiation environments in space. They made a simulation of a spacecraft around some body and all the different subsystems you would have like reaction wheels.
Their main goal for the project was to make the spacecraft computer systems much more resistant to radiation without having to use any super fancy expensive hardware, just using redundancy with commercial systems. Like every project, they had fun on this one too.
When he was 16, he graduated from college and started his master’s studies. He was also teaching a class at the university! When explaining what’s it like standing in front of the class and teaching it instead of sitting and learning, he said that it’s really different and you notice some things you otherwise wouldn’t.
At 17 he got his master’s degree and is currently a Ph.D. student in the fields of Computer Science and Philosophy.
He already had several internships in the Apple company, working as a software engineer, and has a number of research papers.
Young and enthusiastic people like Santiago are changing this world for the better. Although it’s very impressive to look at young geniuses and prodigies and all the things they have done, we can’t forget that everyone can make a change in their life, and you don’t have to be a genius to do so.
We should encourage the kids to learn all around them from a young age – it’s very important for youngsters to have experiences which they will remember and learn from. Santiago is one of the many that were extremely productive, and while the talent was surely present, the most important ingredient was his hard work. Not everyone knows what they want to do in life and what job they would like at such a young age, but we should encourage everyone to at least try and see what drives them and where they find themselves. Stories like this about child prodigies are impressive and should encourage kids instead of scaring them, to find their true passion and learn! Someone once said: “I like learning but I don’t like studying”, so why can’t it be both? It can! In today’s world, with the help of the internet, everyone can research and excel in the field they find interesting and pleasing!
That was the story of Santiago Gonzalez, so what will your story be like?